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July 30th, 201: My last full day at home before I left for Denmark. Because I had been racing in a sailing regatta for the previous four days, it was not until the very last day that I realized my time left at home was quickly vanishing.
At eight thirty in the morning, my mother came into my room, waking me up so that I could carry on with my two main tasks that day: finish packing and say goodbye to friends and family.
After I had eaten and got dressed for the day, I got into the car with my older brother, Tucker, and we drove off. We hardly talked on the way to CVS. I just stared out the window, thinking about everything that could go wrong, but also all that would be positive. Once we got to CVS, Tucker questioned, “Cass, are you okay?” I lied. I told him that I was okay, when, in matter of fact, I was not. “You’re going to have a blast.”
“I know. Like I said, I am okay.” The conversation ended at that as we pulled into the parking lot. We searched for a variety of items such as toiletries, food and band aids, brainstorming what we could I will need in Denmark. Eventually we left CVS.
Every Thursday night, at my yacht club, there is a Thursday night picnic where most members eat dinner and hang out. This happened to be a Thursday, so I knew that everyone would be down at the club. I headed down to the club when I was done packing after dinner.
I had to drop off some shoes that my friend Nate left at my house the night before. I knew that he was still down at the yacht club cleaning up from the regatta. As I walked down the dock approaching Nate, I got several wishes to have fun in Denmark and that they cannot wait to hear stories. I hugged people goodbye, none of whom I was really close with.
When I got to the end of the dock, Nate was talking to sailors. I had to interrupt, saying, “Nate, I have your shoes for you.” Together we walked to the car. I felt the tears coming as he turned around and said. “Keep me posted as much as possible. I will miss you.”
I replied, “Of course I will.”
“How are you feeling about leaving?” He could tell that I was nervous yet I did not want to admit it. Knowing this, he said, “You will have a blast. The more positively you think, the more fun you will have.” I thanked him as my arms wrapped around his body and tears poured down my face. We stayed like this for several minutes, in silence.
“I am going to miss you.” I meant every word of that. I knew that I would miss him more than most other people, and I wanted him to know that.
“I will miss you too, Cass.” He once again hugged me, kissed me, and then together we walked to the crowd.
Nate was the first person that I was close with who I said goodbye to. I had known him for several years now, and throughout that time, we have been very close. People had previously told me that when somebody goes abroad and comes back home, they sometimes lose friends that they were close with beforehand. I did not want to lose Nate or anyone else. Yet I knew that was always a possibility. So I was nervous, really nervous.
Eventually the crowd cleared out so that it was only my close family friends. We hung out for a while, swimming and toasting marsh mellows. Then it was time to say goodbye.
The next person that I had to say goodbye to was Thomas Benfield. Being neighbors, Thomas has been one of my best friends for my whole life, so saying goodbye to him was really hard. Not only was I not going to see him for the next five months, but I also was going to miss him like crazy. As we held each other for minutes on end, I felt a rapid stream of water flow out of my eyes and rush down my cheeks. This was when it really started to hit me.
Then my friend Jackson Hallberg came over. He has also been a very close friend for my entire life. He kept on saying, “This is the last time we will be with the real Cassidy. She will change in Denmark.” The thought of that worried me. He hugged me several times while trying to cheer me up. I was sad though. More and more people kept on saying goodbye as the tears increased. Finally I had said goodbye to everyone, and it was just my family and Thomas left. Thomas and I were alone, and we had a very long conversation. I will never forget him saying, “You will have the best time of my life. Everyone is jealous of you.” He comforted me so much telling me how nothing new would happen in Mystic, while everything would be new in Denmark. I will always appreciate him for these words.
After that, my family and I went home. I still could not get my act together. I could not imagine going to bed or even sleeping that night. Instead, I sat in the kitchen with my sister and mother as we talked about my upcoming adventure. “We will keep you informed about everything happening here,” they promised. “You will make life long friends.” Although my brain knew all of this was true, my heart still seemed to focus on the fact that I was leaving everything and everyone behind.
After a while, I knew that I had to finish packing. My mother, sister and I went up into my bedroom. I had everything laid out waiting to be reviewed. By the time we finished packing, I had two very large suitcases, a duffle bag, and a backpack full of necessary items such as clothes, sailing gear, squash rackets, shoes, and more. Right when we finished packing, my three best girl friends surprisingly came into my house. We ended up having a great night watching movies, playing games, and baking food, but before I knew it, the morning approached.
The next morning, I woke up bright and early. One of my friends, Sophie Fazio, was coming with my family to drop me off at the airport. We packed the car and set out to the Hartford airport. During the car ride, we all, with the exception of my father, the driver, got some rest before the goodbye ceremony.
When we arrived at the airport, I checked my bags and was ready to go through security. This was when I had to say my last goodbyes. Right away, tears started to fill my eyes. I could not imagine leaving my family for five months. It was crazy. I did not want to leave them, but rather have them join me. I looked at my father, as he started to cry and quickly grasped me for the goodbye hug. Then were my sister and brothers who were obviously all sad, but also excited for me. Last came my mother who could have filled an ocean with the amount of tears that she produced. My mom cries even when my siblings and I go away to boarding school, so I knew this would be an extreme. I gave everyone a hug goodbye again and slowly walked through security not once looking back. I did not want to get more sad than I already was, which I knew would happen if I were to turn around and see my family waving to me. So, instead, I continued in my course, looking nowhere but straight ahead. When I got up to the stand where you show your passport, the man asked, “Are you okay?” He was most definitely not the last one to ask. As a matter of fact, it felt as if every step I took people asked if I was okay.
When I got to my gate, I checked my phone. “One new message from Haley Walsh” it read. I opened my phone, clicked open, and read, “How do you feel?” I tried to explain my feelings to my sister, but I honestly could not. I was excited, very excited, but that was taken over by the nervousness. I did not know what to expect. I had talked to my host family a lot, but they were still strangers to me. Everything could either work out perfectly, or it would not at all, and that was a chance that I chose to risk. Part of me regretted going abroad, choosing to end my summer early and miss the moments at Berkshire that I loved. But deep down, I knew it was worth it.
Throughout each of the three plane rides that I had to take to get to Denmark, I was sobbing. I hardly slept, ate, or did anything besides stare outside the window and think. I had never been so nervous in my life, I had never missed my family so much, nor had I ever regretted anything so badly. I continued to act feel this way for the first week of orientation in Denmark. However, then I went to my host family, and I knew the feelings were well worth the reward.
Leaving home to go to Denmark was hard; leaving Denmark to go home was going to be just as challenging. It was not until a few days before I had to go home when it hit me: I was out with my class and a few others from my school at a musical in Copenhagen. We were having a great time and really enjoying ourselves. Then it was time to say goodbye. I knew that I was going to see some of my classmates again at my goodbye party, so these tears were more for my friends that were outside of my class. I hugged all of my buddies goodbye, suggesting that we should keep in touch through letters, Skype and Facebook, and hopefully see each other soon, and then I was off to my house with a pal, Caroline.
Caroline and I took the train back to our town. She cheered me up by saying, “You still had a few days left in Denmark, and rather than being sad about it, you should enjoy it.”
“I guess, but it harder than that,” I argued. But I took her advice and managed to hold out until the last day before I left.
A day before I had to go home, my classmates hosted a get together in order to tell me goodbye. We had a great time, listening to music, eating a Danish desert called ableskiver, and drinking tea, but before we knew it, I had to go back to my host family’s house to pack. Once again, the tears came. The hugs continued and the “keep in touches” were repeated. Everyone was saying how they were going to come visit me in the United States, but of course, it is not as easy as that. However, I knew that we would not only talk every day, but also see each other before we knew it, whether that was me going back to Denmark or them visiting me in the United States.
When I got back to my Danish house, I had to get down to business and pack. I had started this process, but still had a ways to go. My baggage was a lot heavier than what I left with considering I bought a great deal while abroad for not only myself, but also presents for friends and family such as tee-shirts, candles, and Danish chocolate. So packing was harder than I anticipated.
That night, my host brothers and I decided to pull an all-nighter, considering we had to leave the house at the crack of dawn. We played cards, ate tons of food, and watched a few movies. We talked and shared stories of my time in Denmark. At a few different times, I felt myself tearing up, but they helped prevent that very quickly by saying, “You will come visit soon” and “Going home may seem bad now, but when you are home, you will like seeing your friends and family”. Thomas and Mark, my host brothers, were just like real brothers to me. I had spent every day for the last five months of my life with them. We got along extremely well, each relating to each other in different ways. For an example, Mark and I both love to cook while Thomas and I both enjoy talking for hours. Both boys are into sports, as am I. Our connections made us feel as if we were blood related. The thought of leaving them was heartbreaking. My host parents were amazing people who I became very close with, and will always be another set of parents to me. Not a bone in my body wanted to leave this family.
When dawn rose, we all got ready and packed the car for my departure. When we arrived at the Copenhagen airport, I had to check my bags and receive my tickets. Before I knew it, it was time to say goodbye. I hugged my host father first, saying, “Thank you so much for providing me with such a life-altering experience. I will miss you.”
He gave me a kiss on the head, and said, “You are always welcome here. We will miss you very much.”
Then I continued to say goodbye to my youngest host brother, Mark, telling each other that we were going to miss once another. Next came my other host brother, Thomas. At this point, we both started to cry. “I am going to miss you,” he said. “You are like a real sister to me.” Although this is something that he had told me before, it really sank in at this last moment together.
I replied by saying, “Words cannot explain how much I will miss you, but of course we will keep in touch.” Then I hugged my host mother and thanked her for everything. Thomas pulled me over to him again, hugging me as we continued to cry and say goodbye. Eventually we managed to unlatch from one another, and I had to head upstairs. The situation was similar. People in the airport were asking me, “Are you okay,”, as I was texting Thomas on his car ride home.
In some ways, leaving the United States was harder than leaving Denmark. I think that this was because I had not known what to expect in Denmark, but I did know what was waiting for me at home. It was Christmas break, which helped the adjustment back home, given that all my friends and family members would be home. Denmark could have gone either way: terrible or amazing. I was lucky enough to have it be more than amazing. Overall, my goodbyes were the hardest that I have ever had to do, but the pain of these departures was well worth it, because of the experience that came between.